CALGARY — Police say a suspect in the disappearance of a five-year-old girl whose mother was found dead has an extensive criminal history and is giving "zero co-operation" to investigators.
Insp. Don Coleman says the man is believed to be the same one witnesses saw Monday with a girl matching Taliyah Marsman's description. They were in the same Calgary neighbourhood where Sara Baillie's body was discovered Monday night in the basement suite she shared with her daughter.
Police believe the man and the girl left a black car belonging to Baillie, got into a grey sedan and drove off. Coleman says the sedan was seized in a strip mall parking lot on Wednesday night and the driver was arrested. The car was being examined by the forensics unit.
Coleman says Baillie, 34, knew the suspect, as did Taliyah's father, Colin Marsman. He also says the suspect is known to police and has a violent background.
Police have not closed their eyes to the possibility of other suspects, he said.
Between 50 and 75 city police and RCMP officer were searching for clues in a rural area east of Calgary on Thursday.
"Information that comes to light through several investigative strategies led us to believe that this individual was briefly in that area," Coleman said at a police briefing. "We've searched other premises in the last few days. This rural area is no different."
The inspector acknowledged that the rural search "does have a more ominous tone to it" but added it shouldn't be viewed negatively.
"We've searched three or four houses for Taliyah since the outset of the investigation," he said. "This is different only by virtue of the fact it's a large outdoor area ... We're looking for anything that might be related to this investigation."
A stuffed animal was found by searchers, but police have no idea of its significance — if any.
An Amber Alert is still in effect and Coleman says police still expect to find Taliyah alive.
"There has been nothing to indicate the status of that has changed ... Our thoughts and opinions have never changed."
Taliyah's family was "doing exactly as expected," Coleman said.
"They are very ... upset. They want Taliyah safely returned. They've lost their daughter, their niece, and they're just hoping that at least Taliyah can be returned safely."
Her father has also put out a plea for whoever has Taliyah to "do the right thing."